Synopses & Reviews
The first collection of letters between the two leading figures of the Beat movement
Writers and cultural icons Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg are the most celebrated names of the Beat Generation, linked together not only by their shared artistic sensibility but also by a deep and abiding friendship, one that colored their lives and greatly influenced their writing. Editors Bill Morgan and David Stanford shed new light on this intimate and influential friendship in this fascinating exchange of letters between Kerouac and Ginsberg, two thirds of which have never been published before. Commencing in 1944 while Ginsberg was a student at Columbia University and continuing until shortly before Kerouac's death in 1969, the two hundred letters included in this book provide astonishing insight into their lives and their writing. While not always in agreement, Ginsberg and Kerouac inspired each other spiritually and creatively, and their letters became a vital workshop for their art. Vivid, engaging, and enthralling, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters provides an unparalleled portrait of the two men who led the cultural and artistic movement that defined their generation.
"The Kerouac-Ginsberg letters are marvelous and lively. The exchange ranks among the best examples of completely engaged literary correspondence we know in the past 50 years."
-The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Open-hearted and richly detailed. . . Rich in news about fellow Beat writers, including John Clellon Holmes, William Burroughs, and Gregory Corso, among others, their correspondence provides a bird's-eye view of what went into the making and marketing of the Beat Generation. The publication of these letters between two of America's leading 20th-century authors is an extraordinary event in American literature, particularly welcome in this era of chat and Twitter."
"Documenting the adventures of "Old Bean" (Allen) and "Jackiboo" from their days at Columbia through October 1969, weeks before Kerouac's death, the letters form a kind of essential Beat masterpiece, and offer hilarious behind-the-scenes commentary on all the "mad ones" involved."
-The Village Voice
"[E]ditors Stanford and Morgan showcase 200 high-voltage letters, most never before published, that embody the energy and psychic hunger that fueled the creativity of these giants of American literature . . . This incandescent collection deepens our understanding of an essential literary revolution."
"The collection reads like a Dostoyevsky novel"
-The New York Observer
"In the seductive collection they've called Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters, the editors Bill Morgan and David Stanford stake out a distinct piece of literary turf. They do this despite the fact that Kerouac and Ginsberg were expansive letter writers, that each wrote to many correspondents, and that reams of these other letters have already shown up elsewhere."
-The New York Times (Daily Review)
"The depth of their [Kerouac and Ginsberg's] development as friends but especially as writers has never been shown more clearly than in this stunning new collection, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters. . . Ginsberg biographer Bill Morgan and David Stanford, a longtime editor at Viking, provide readers with a volume as illuminating as it is indispensable for understanding these writers and their work."
-The Los Angeles Times
"Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters is destined to become an indispensable item on any fan's bookshelf. . . The collected Kerouac-Ginsberg correspondence is pure literary gold that fans and scholars will mine for decades."
-San Francisco Chronicle
"[An] essential Beat masterpiece." --The Village Voice.
Perhaps one of the last great dual correspondences of the twentieth century, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters reveals not only the process of creation of the two most celebrated members of the Beat Generation, but also the unfolding of a remarkable friendship of immense pathos and spiritual depth. Through this exhilarating exchange of letters, two-thirds of which have never been published before, Kerouac and Ginsberg emerge first and foremost as writers of artistic passion, innovation, and genius. Vivid and enthralling, the letters, which date from their first meeting in 1944 to Kerouac's untimely death in 1969, chronicle the endless struggle, anguish, and sacrifice involved in giving form to their literary visions.
About the Author
(1922-1969) wrote numerous novels, most notably On The Road
and The Dharma Bums
Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) was the author of many collections of poetry, including Howl and Kaddish.
Bill Morgan is the author of I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg and editor of The Letters of Allen Ginsberg.
David Stanford is an independent editor who worked on several Kerouac projects during his decade at Viking Penguin.